Polidori Sausage, also known simply as Polidori, is a food company based in Colorado that specializes in pork products, among other processed meats. It was founded by Anna Cerrone, an Italian immigrant to the United States, and coal miner Rocco Polidori.
How did the Polidori Sausage come to be?
Anna Cerrone moved from Sicily to Ellis Island in 1914 and eventually settled in Magna, Utah. In 1918, she met Rocco Polidori, a coal miner who had become ill, and the two moved to Denver in search of better air quality and potential wealth. They opened a butcher shop in 1925. Anna and Rocco eventually had two sons (Louis and Augie), and by 1945, they were also employed by the company. Louis and Augie grew the shop into an industry over the next 37 years, which was sold and relocated to a USDA facility after Anna’s death in 1982.
Polidori Sausage sells packaged meat products (specifically pork) in supermarkets. Ingredients such as cinnamon and nutmeg are occasionally used. There is a delicate harmony between the long heritage of Polidori Sausage and its commitment to long-term viability. 95 years later, the company produces 60,000 pounds of sausage per week from pork shoulder, salt, and spices. It’s still made in a traditional one-pound rope, as well as links and patties, and the company still cracks the fennel seed with a coffee grinder from Anna and Rocco’s days.
Polidori Sausage moved to a new facility in northeast Denver in 2016, tripling its floor space while emphasizing sustainability through energy efficiency, water conservation, and other initiatives. Steve Polidori and Melodie Polidori Harris are now the company’s president and vice president.
Polidori Harris explains, “We still do things the way Great-grandma Polidori did them in 1925. The sausage is still prepared by hand, despite the fact that we have been able to include some equipment to speed up the process”.
As her family’s venerable sausage maker approaches the century mark, Vice President Melodie Polidori Harris is guiding it to national growth. Despite being over 90 years old, this Colorado-based, family-owned sausage manufacturing company is far from set in its ways. Polidori Harris and her brother, Steve, have continued to build the business around the heirloom Italian sausage that their Sicilian great grandmother first sold in the 1920s at Polidori’s Grocery and Meat Market on Denver’s north side. However, they have significantly expanded the company’s product line as well as its physical and distribution footprint over the years.
“My great grandmother was making raw sausage in casing as well as bulk sausage, but she was only doing Italian sausage,” Polidori Harris explains. Everything else in our product line has developed in response to that.”
This progression has resulted in the production of over 60 different types of sausages, as well as chorizo, pizza toppings, and meatballs. While Italian sausage (available in mild, spicy, and extra spicy varieties in bulk, patties, and strips) continues to account for the majority of the company’s sales, Polidori Harris claims that bulk chorizo is the single biggest mover.
These and other raw products are currently manufactured in a 15,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art USDA manufacturing plant that the company relocated to in 2016. The company celebrated their second anniversary there, and already out of cooler space, despite having increased our efficiency significantly
Each week, the team produces approximately 40,000 pounds of raw product, while co-packers across the country produce approximately 20,000 pounds of Polidori Sausage’s meatballs, pizza toppings, and other pre-cooked products using the company’s proprietary recipes. “Our total annual output is slightly more than 3 million pounds of product,” Polidori Harris adds.
Polidori’s products are all made with a lean cut of pork shoulder, making them lower in fat than competitors’ sausages. They are also made with all-natural spices, are gluten-free, and contain no MSG or preservatives. Polidori Harris says the company buys pork from PETA-friendly, ethical, and sustainable producers in the Midwest because there aren’t enough farmers in Colorado to supply the quantities needed. When possible, they source their spices, labels, and boxes locally.
Polidori Sausage products are sold in thousands of restaurants and over 2,500 grocery stores across the country. You may find our meatballs in the deli section of most Kroger stores, including those in the Pacific Northwest, Texas, Southern California, Arizona, and the Midwest. Polidori Harris says. Our unprocessed sausage products can be purchased in King Soopers, City Market, or Safeway, respectively.
For food service, there are a number of well-known names like Shamrock, Sysco, US Foods, and PFG to choose from throughout the state and even regionally now that the company has expanded into Texas, Southern California, and Arizona.
Polidori Sausage in Community and Culture
Polidori Sausage places a premium on culture and community. Production Appreciation Week in July provides breakfast and lunch every day, as well as some pretty cool gifts (Nike sneakers and Fossil watches), and then another 12 days of gifts in December.
Polidori Harris adds, “We are so lucky to be a part of the manufacturing industry in Colorado.” “It’s a great group of people who are always willing to help each other out.” “There are so many great brands in this state that are doing what they love and making good, healthy, real food. “Polidori Sausage is the Colorado Rockies’ official bratwurst and sausage provider for the 2018 season. Polidori Harris says, “They sell a few of our items in the snack stands.”
“They’re using a 10-inch bratwurst, a Polish sausage, and a hatch chili cheese sausage. They’re also using a couple of other sausages and a chorizo crumble on a mac and cheese.”
Polidori Sausage’s products is also available to Safeway customers, as the company has secured additional shelf space at the supermarket chain. According to Polidori Harris, there is also opportunity in the meal kit provider industry. “We’ll treat you the same whether you’re a one-man mom-and-pop shop or have 15 locations. We value every customer’s business, whether they purchase one or fifty cases.”
In its nearly century of existence, the company has never had a down year. Sausage appears to be recession-proof.